Firefighter worried Richmond County tire pile is a fire hazard

·3 min read
There are thousands of tires at a temporary tire storage site in Richmond County. An area firefighter thinks they are a fire risk. (Hillary Taylor - image credit)
There are thousands of tires at a temporary tire storage site in Richmond County. An area firefighter thinks they are a fire risk. (Hillary Taylor - image credit)

A volunteer firefighter says a temporary tire storage site in Richmond County is a fire risk.

The tire transfer site in L'Ardoise is used by Maia Transport — a contractor with Divert Nova Scotia.

Hillary Taylor, with the L'Ardoise Volunteer Fire Department since 1984, estimates there are more than 5,000 tires in the pile and he thinks they aren't stored properly.

"You are supposed to have a brick wall all around ... so it can be contained so that it doesn't spread anywhere," said Taylor. "And in this case, where you got hay fields all around it … if we get a major grassfire, guess what? That pile of tires is going up in smoke."

Provinces get their guidelines from the National Fire Code of Canada, but are able to make revisions.

The code says tires stored outside can be piled no more than three metres high, but can be spread out over a flat, hard area up to 1,000 square metres – about two times the size of a basketball court.

The code also states there must be clear access for firefighters. The tires also must be clear of ignition sources and need to be about 15 metres away from buildings.

More tires than usual

The tires at the site in L'Ardoise are part of a pilot project to repurpose and recycle used tires. Since 2020, Maia Transport has been collecting tires from businesses, repair shops and scrap yards all over Cape Breton.

The tires are being stored temporarily at the transfer station.

Nick MacKenzie, the owner of Maia Transport, said the tires are stored to regulation standards.

"We have requirements that we have to follow," MacKenzie said. "And then we also have insurance requirements and that's all met."

MacKenzie said the accumulation of tires at the site isn't the norm. She said seasonal weight restrictions on trucks as well as rising diesel prices have slowed down operations.

But she said operations are ramping up to shrink the pile.

Councillor told problem to be resolved

"So right now we're ready to ship.… The roads just reopened for us on Sunday evening," MacKenzie said.

Brent Sampson, the councillor for L'Ardoise, said he's been in contact with the company and has been told the problem will be resolved soon.

"There are more tires at this moment than normally would be there," he said. "I guess there's been an issue between the company and Divert Nova Scotia with fuel surcharges and so on."

He said he's been told the tires would start moving faster by June.

Divert Nova Scotia declined an interview request but issued a statement.

"All our contractors are required to follow all health and safety regulations set forth by government and industry. We have recently become aware of a possible situation in Cape Breton at one of our contractors' facilities. We are currently looking into this matter and have no further comment at this time."

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